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Student lunches thrown out for outstanding balances

Salt Lake City (AP) -- Parents in Utah said they're outraged after up to 40 elementary school students at a Salt Lake City school had their school lunches thrown out because of outstanding balances on their account.

The Salt Lake Tribune reported the move came Tuesday after the Salt Lake City District realized a lot of students in Uintah Elementary owed money for lunches. District spokesman Jason Olsen said cafeteria workers weren't able to see who was in debt until after the lunches had already been handed out.

He said the workers threw out the lunches because they can't be served to another student. The students whose lunches were taken away were given fruit and milk.

Parent Erica Lukes told the newspaper the children shouldn't be "punished or humiliated" for their parents' mistakes.

On Wednesday Uintah Elementary School released the following statement concerning a school lunch mishandling:

"On Monday, a district Child Nutrition manager was sent to Uintah Elementary School to investigate the large number of students who had zero or negative balances in their school lunch accounts. That same day, the district manager and the local school kitchen manager started making calls to inform parents of the negative balances.

On Tuesday, the calls to parents continued. When lunch time came, students who still had negative balances were told they could not have a full meal but were given a piece of fruit and a milk for lunch. The district does these so children who dont have money for lunch can at least have some food and not go without.

Unfortunately, children are served lunch before they get to the computer for payment. The children who didn't have enough money in their accounts had their normal food trays taken from them and were given the fruit and milk.

This situation could have and should have been handled in a different manner. We apologize.

We are also investigating what type of notification parents may or may not have received prior to this week. The school says they inform students when they go through the lunch line if they have a low balance. They say they also send notes home in the students Monday folders. However, when contacted Monday or Tuesday, many parents were surprised by the news. The district has specific guidelines for school kitchen managers on how parents should be notified, and we are currently investigating to see if these guidelines were followed correctly.

We understand the feelings of upset parents and students who say this was an embarrassing and humiliating situation. We again apologize and commit to working with parents in rectifying this situation and to ensuring students are never treated in this manner again."

 
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